177. Recurrent government expenditure on social welfare for 2012-13 is estimated at $44 billion, representing an increase of $10 billion, or nearly 30 per cent, when compared with $34 billion for 2007-08.
178. To cope with an ageing population, the Government has allocated substantial resources to various elderly services in recent years. In line with the Government’s elderly policy which regards "ageing in place as the core, institutional care as back-up", we have allocated funds to provide 2 000 additional places of community care services, including 1 500 places for the Enhanced Home and Community Care Services and 500 day care places, from 2007-08 to 2011-12. For the coming year, I propose to increase recurrent funding by $36 million for the provision of an additional 500 places for the Enhanced Home and Community Care Services and some 180 day care places. There will also be a breakthrough in the current funding and operation model for subsidised services as Government plans for a pilot scheme on community care service voucher for the elderly. Under the scheme, subsidy will be provided directly to eligible elders for them to choose the services they need.
179. While encouraging "ageing in place", the Government will continue to devote additional resources to upgrading residential care services and providing more residential care places. In the past five years, we have allocated funds to provide 3 600 additional subsidised residential care places. From 2011-12 to 2014-15, more than 2 600 additional subsidised residential care places will come on stream.
180. Last year’s Policy Address announced the provision of public transport concessions for the elderly and eligible people with disabilities to travel on the general MTR lines, franchised buses and ferries at a concessionary fare of $2 a trip. The Government is discussing the details of and specific arrangements for the concession scheme with the public transport operators concerned and the Octopus Cards Limited, with a view to launching the concession scheme in 2012-13.
181. Apart from providing funding for elderly services, we have also devoted substantial resources to supporting other people in need. We have strengthened rehabilitation services and support services to children, youngsters and families. On rehabilitation services, we have enacted the Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance to bring the licensing scheme for residential care homes for persons with disabilities (RCHDs) into operation. We have also introduced certain complementary measures, which include providing $70 million for the implementation of a pilot Bought Place Scheme for private RCHDs and $39 million for the Financial Assistance Scheme. The aim is to encourage private RCHDs to upgrade their service standards and provide them with subsidies for improvement works.
182. In 2010, we allocated $135 million as well to set up Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness across the territory for the provision of district-based and one-stop services. Additional funding totalling $48 million for 2011-12 and the coming year has been made available to strengthen the manpower of these centres to dovetail with the Case Management Programme of the Hospital Authority and provide services for more people in need.
183. On support services to children and families, we shall provide 130 additional places for residential child care services in phases and raise the foster care allowance for foster families. In addition to the Integrated Family Service Centre established in Sham Shui Po last year, another three centres will be set up in districts with greater service demand, bringing the total number of such centres to 65. The total annual expenditure of these measures is estimated to be about $68 million.
184. On youth services, to reach out to more youths at risk, we shall set up three more youth outreaching teams, one each in Tseung Kwan O, Ma On Shan and Tung Chung. With the additional teams, we can counsel them and refer them to other mainstream services. This will incur additional annual funding estimated at $12 million.